COVID-19 Coronavirus: Rapid Antigen Tests

What is a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and when do you complete one.

What is a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test

The RAT is a quick test to check for COVID-19 and provides a result within 15 to 30 minutes, and all kits have a QR code which links to a video that demonstrate how to take a test.

There are two types of Rapid Antigen Tests:

  • Saliva test – user spits into a tube, or sucks on a swab
  • Nasal swab – user swabs each nostril.

When to complete a Rapid Antigen Test 

RATs are recommended for use if:

  • attending a large gathering in a crowded place such as a wedding or funeral
  • visiting a person who is vulnerable to risks of COVID-19
  • visiting a high-risk setting, e.g. an aged care facility, hospital or disability group home
  • need to check quickly for COVID-19
  • recommended by the Department of Health.

While a RAT provides a quick result and is useful in a high case load environment, the WA Government is urging Western Australians to keep utilising the PCR testing clinics as the priority, while clinics are able to manage the number of PCR tests required.

RATs have been distributed to all public COVID testing clinics, for WA Health to utilise if demand for PCR tests reaches a peak.

Approved travellers into WA are recommended to obtain a PCR test at a COVID clinic, or alternatively to use a RAT.

How to complete a Rapid Antigen Test

There are two types of RATs:

  • Saliva test – user spits into a tube, or sucks on a swab
  • Nasal swab – user swabs each nostril.

Self-test kits will contain:

  • Test device
  • Spit funnel or nasal swab
  • Test tube with dropper cap to collect samples
  • Buffer (chemical solution that extract the virus from samples)
  • Instructions for use

In line with national health advice, RATs are safe to use with children older than two years and children aged 12 to 17 years can perform the test with parent or guardian supervision. Parents or guardians should perform tests on children under 12 years.

How to use a nasal RAT

There are different self-test kits available. Follow the instructions provided within the test or watch a quick video on how to use a basic nasal rapid antigen test.

All tests are for single use only. This means you can only use each test once. Do not use a test more than once or try to use one test on multiple people.

How to read your RAT results

A negative result is show by a line next to the C marker and no line next to the T marker. If your result is negative, you have no symptoms, and you are not a close contact you do not need to isolate.

A positive result is show by a line next to both the C and T markers. If you test positive you must register their result online (external link) with WA Health and isolate for 7 complete days.

If a line only appears next to the T marker, this means your test result is invalid. This can happen if the test was done incorrectly, or the test was defective. If this happens you must perform a second test by either retaking a RAT or presenting for a free PCR test.

Where to get a Rapid Antigen Test

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RAT kits are available for purchase from supermarkets, pharmacies and other retailers.

Up to five free RAT kits are available for concession card holders from local pharmacies per month. Visit Services Australia’s website (external link) for more information.

Registering positive results online

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People who have self-administered a RAT for COVID-19 and tested positive, must register their result online (external link) with WA Health.

This process will take several minutes and can be completed by the person who has returned the positive result or another person on their behalf - if they need assistance.

The mandatory registration requires information to be logged including:

  • Date and time of the test
  • Personal details about your situation
  • Phone number to be contacted on

People who do not have access to the online registration system must still report their positive test result and can do so by contacting 13 COVID (13 26843).

When a positive result is registered, WA Health will assess how best to manage the situation, including whether health care is needed, and provide advice on what to do next.

PCR testing

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Testing is available at COVID clinics, regional public hospitals and health services, remote health clinics (where COVID clinics are not available) and, private pathology centres.

Approved travellers into WA are recommended to obtain a PCR test at a COVID clinic, or alternatively to use a RAT.

The WA Government is urging Western Australians to keep utilising the PCR testing clinics in the first instance, while clinics are able to manage the number of PCR tests required.

For more information about testing locations and when you should get tested, visit the HealthyWA website (external link).

Page reviewed 23 May 2022